Web development is an incredibly low-key task particularly if you are a front-end web developer. Back-end web development may require a workstation depending upon the purpose.
In the majority of cases, if you are starting out, it is NOT recommended to spend a hefty sum on a desktop for web development.
This is particularly true in the age of online platforms such as WordPress, Shopify, and their plugins/add-ons that have made it incredibly easy to design and create a website from scratch.
When we talk about doing something stressful on a PC, web development is certainly not what we have in mind. A stressful task for a PC would be video editing, simulation, rendering, streaming, gaming, etc.
Web development is NOT a hardware-hungry task at ALL.
What web development DOES require is a good and productive environment as well as a good internet connection. And hence it is recommended that you invest in a PC that has sufficient CPU juice, enough RAM, and support for multiple monitors.
Having multiple monitors is the KEY to productivity.
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How to Choose Among the Best Desktops for Web Development?
There are two VERY important ingredients for a good web development environment: sufficient RAM and multiple monitors.
Sufficient Amount of RAM
There is absolutely no doubt that web development will have you work on dozens of browser tabs at once along with multiple software such as Adobe Photoshop / Illustrator (for front-end development).
All of this can EAT through your RAM.
Take for instance my case whereby I am working on this present site you are on (PCGEARLAB.com). I have about 21 Chrome tabs open as I am researching, planning, and designing content for this webpage.
This is eating about 8 GB of my DDR4 RAM alone.
About 2.6GB of the RAM is being used by Chrome alone and the rest is being used by services, background apps, and Windows OS.
Hence, having 8 GB of DDR4 RAM would certainly not cut out for my PC. Luckily, I have 16 GB of RAM in my PC saving me from the lags and freezes the 8 GB of RAM would have caused.
If you are a professional developer (which I am not), you would obviously require a lot more resources than I do.
But 12-16 GB of RAM is a very good starting point for any decent web development PC.
Support for Multiple Monitors
Productivity is something that every web developer cherishes. Anything that can improve efficiency can go a long way in meeting deadlines, speeding up the processes and of course saving you from frustration and headaches.
And for a web developer, like any programmer, the most significant way to improve productivity is through multiple monitors.
There are studies upon studies that have proved that using multiple monitors can drastically improve productivity. Some tasks, particularly, web development are highly susceptible to gains received from multiple screens.
Multiple Displays can Increase Productivity by 42% – Jon Peddie Research
As such, a good prebuilt desktop for web development should have multiple video output ports in the form of HDMI, VGA, DVI, DP ports, etc.
Each port can handle a single monitor. So to plug in two monitors, you would need to have two output ports on your desktop.
With that Said,
You can either build the PC yourself or get a prebuilt PC.
If going the pre-built PC route, particularly for content creation and web development, Apple M2 is something that can be given some serious thought. Now M2 CPUs, like their predecessors M1s, are a completely different breed of hardware. It uses a completely different RISC architecture instead of the CISC architecture used by Intel and AMD – which is a very complex but important piece of the system to understand, but from a consumer standpoint, you are essentially getting the Apple Mac environment for cheap. And Mac, as many would vouch, is a bespoke environment for creators, designers, and developers. It comes with two thunderbolts 4 and one HDMI port enabling you to connect 3 x displays at a time for productivity (all 4K at 60Hz).
If going the pre-built PC route, particularly for content creation and web development, Apple M2 is something that can be given some serious thought.
Now M2 CPUs, like their predecessors M1s, are a completely different breed of hardware. It uses a completely different RISC architecture instead of the CISC architecture used by Intel and AMD – which is a very complex but important piece of the system to understand, but from a consumer standpoint, you are essentially getting the Apple Mac environment for cheap.
And Mac, as many would vouch, is a bespoke environment for creators, designers, and developers.
It comes with two thunderbolts 4 and one HDMI port enabling you to connect 3 x displays at a time for productivity (all 4K at 60Hz).
Apple Mac is not everyone’s cup of tea. There are, fortunately, models upon models featuring Windows 11 and mid-range specs needed for web development. Some even feature a graphics card but whether you need one or not is a personal choice. Intel Core i5-12400 | 12 GB | 512 GB SSD The drawback is of course only 2 x video ports. You won’t be able to do a native 3 monitors display setup.
2 x HDMI
Apple Mac is not everyone’s cup of tea.
There are, fortunately, models upon models featuring Windows 11 and mid-range specs needed for web development. Some even feature a graphics card but whether you need one or not is a personal choice.
Intel Core i5-12400 | 12 GB | 512 GB SSD
The drawback is of course only 2 x video ports. You won’t be able to do a native 3 monitors display setup.
Processor is Important BUT Do Not Shoot for High End
Processors can generally be divided into three categories: Entry Level, Mid Range, and High End.
Entry Level processors include the likes of AMD Athlon, Intel Celeron, Pentium processors, etc. These are weak processors built particularly for simple home and office use such as word processing, working on small excel sheets, etc.
For professional work such as web development, you have to look into mid-range or high-end processors depending upon your level of work.
Mid-range processors include Core i3, Core i5, Ryzen 3, and Ryzen 5 series processors with the most recommended being the Core i5 and Ryzen 5 processors.
Now each series is subdivided into several more CPUs. For instance, take the i5 series.
- Intel Core i5 13400 – Lower – Mid Range
- Intel Core i5 13600K – Higher – Mid Range
Basically, unless you are a back-end developer, a LOWER mid-range CPU should be more than sufficient i.e Intel Core i5 12400 or 13400 CPUs.
PHP, MYSQL, and Back End Development
PHP, MYSQL, or any kind of BACK-END development that works on the server side is a COMPLETELY different ball game.
For very large databases, and for large complex websites where you have to manage dynamic content and collect data on large servers, you need a robust system.
A PC for backend development isn’t always your average PC, it is in fact a workstation.
Luckily, you don’t need to worry about it as a beginner or an intermediate developer since PHP, MYSQL, etc. are softwares that are installed on your web server where the website is hosted.
Hence the reason why choosing a good host for your website is paramount. Unless you are hosting yourself, you do not need to worry about building a 16-32 core system with a very high single-core performance capable of executing PHP requests.
What About Graphics Cards?
This is a big no for an average web developer UNLESS you are a gamer OR you want to have support for more than two monitors.
Multiple Monitors and Dedicated Graphics Card
There are two ways to enable multiple monitor support on your PC, either have a motherboard with two or three video output ports OR have a dedicated graphics card with multiple video output ports.
Take the back I/O of the motherboard above, for instance (ASUS AM4 TUF X570-Plus), it only has TWO video output ports i.e Display Port and an HDMI 1.4. As such, this motherboard would only support a maximum of two displays.
Now in case:
- Your motherboard has either no or a single video output port.
- Your processor DOES NOT have an integrated graphics card (to operate the video output ports)
- Or you need to have more than 3 displays
You will need to buy a dedicated graphics card.
The dedicated graphics card does NOT have to be expensive at all. Any simple, entry-level graphics card with multiple video output ports would do just fine for a web development PC with multiple monitors.
NVMe SSDs Are the New Norm and Recommended
If there is one quality of life improvement I would suggest for ALL PCs including for the desktops for web development, it is to get an NVMe SSD.
NVMe SSDs are countless factors faster than a normal HDD. While they are expensive, the experience they provide is worth every penny.
A hard disk reaches maximum speeds of about 200 MB/s AT BEST. An NVMe SSD can reach speeds of 3500 MB/s if it belongs to Gen or 7500 MB/s if it belongs to Gen 4.
From boot time to application installation to archiving and loading files, the gains from an NVMe SSD are simply phenomenal.
Just beware that the SATA SSD and NVMe SSD both look the same since they have the same M.2 form factor. However, the former has a speed of 550 MB/s max. Therefore, always make sure to get an NVMe SSD.
Basic front-end desktops for web development do NOT have to be expensive. I would give good attention to the overall RAM and multiple monitor support for productivity.
But in terms of processing power, you can aim for simple lower-mid-range options from the newer generations of the CPUs.